Patterson, Sampson Lead Way as LSU Downs Vols
Communications Sr. Associate
BATON ROUGE – The LSU Tigers, for the first time in exactly eight weeks, tasted victory in the Southeastern Conference and the weeks of effort and hard work paid off on the floor of the Maravich Center Wednesday night in a 92-82 win over Tennessee.
The Tigers scored 50 second half points to rally from a 46-42 halftime deficit as LSU held Tennessee to just 9-of-33 shooting in the final 20 minutes (27.3 percent). At the same time, LSU was shooting a second consecutive half of 50 percent (14-of-28) and made 19-of-26 free throws in the process.
The win raised LSU’s record to 10-19 on the year and 2-15 in the league, while Tennessee, entering the game at the top of the next four out list by ESPN, fell to 15-15 and 7-10.
On a night when Antonio Blakeney struggled from the field after six consecutive 20 point games, Brandon Sampson and Jalyn Patterson picked up the slack with one setting and the other tying career highs.
Patterson, who had 20 points in the win at Arkansas to close the 2015 season, had 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting (3-of-4 from the arc) and three free throws. Patterson played 26 minutes off the bench and had a season high four steals.
Sampson had 24 points for the second time in his career, equaling the 24 he had in the Bahamas in the win over Old Dominion (Nov. 24, 2016). Sampson was 6-of-10 from the floor with one trey and 11-of-12 from the free throw line in 34 minutes.
Senior Brandon Eddlestone and Brian Bridgewater, honored before the game in Senior Tribute ceremonies, started for Coach Johnny Jones and both played double figure minutes. Bridgewater didn’t score but grabbed three rebounds and had an assists, while Eddlestone played 15 minutes was 2-of-2 from the field for four points with three rebounds and a block.
Tennessee was led by the 16 points and 14 rebounds of Grant Williams, who also had four blocks in the game. Shembari Phillips also had 16 points and Lamonte Turner had 14 points.
LSU shot 50 percent for the game, 29-of-58, making 7-of-15 treys and 27-of-37 from the field, 73 percent.
Tennessee finished the game at 41 percent (25-of-61), making 10 threes and 22-of-26 free throws.
The Volunteers shot the ball extremely well in the first half of play, making 16-of-28 (57.1%) and 6-of-10 from the arc in building a 46-42 halftime advantage. The Vols finished on a 7-2 run to go into the locker room.
The Tigers tied the game at 48-48, but Arkansas would take a 51-49 lead on a Phillips trey. LSU, however, started to put the clamps on things as Epps made two free throws that tied the game at 51-51 (18:01) and then after misses on both ends, Sampson hit a three that gave LSU the lead for good, 54-51, at the 16:41 mark.
Tennessee missed and Skylar Mays scored on a layup to make it 56-51. The Vols missed again and Mays found Sampson for a layup to make it 58-51. Epps would get a layup to stretch the lead to 60-51 with 14:25 left.
UT closed the game to five, but then LSU went on another 9-0 run with Sampson getting seven-of-the-nine points that stretched LSU’s margin to 69-55 as the game headed to the final 10 minutes. LSU would also lead by 14 at the 5:56 mark, 76-62, and with 4:46 left, 78-64.
Tennessee would get as close as eight only once in the final minutes, 80-72, but LSU did enough things in protecting the ball and making free throws to seal the deal.
Despite the fact LSU was outrebounded in the contest, the Tigers held the other statistical advantages with a 36-18 advantage in points in the paint, 17-7 in points off turnovers and 10-6 in second chance points. The eight turnovers were the fewest since the Tigers turned the ball over seven times in the season opener against Wofford.
The Tigers close the regular season out on Saturday with a 5 p.m. CT game at Mississippi State. The game will be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network and televised on the SEC Network.
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HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES
Opening Statement …
“First of all, it was a great effort by our guys tonight. I thought the tone was set for us in the beginning of the game with our two seniors. I thought Brian (Bridgewater) and (Brandon) Eddlestone did a tremendous job of starting the game for us. There was no slippage. Both of those guys did a tremendous job in the first few minutes of the game. They did a really good job of setting the tone, and as the game played out, I thought both impacted the game in a positive way. They allowed the rotation of our post guys to stay in rhythm and allowed our guys to stay fresh, as well. I’m really happy for our team. Those guys continue to fight. They played extremely hard. They never put themselves in a situation where they gave up. They continued to fight and battle, and it’s really good to see them get a victory under their belt. I’m really happy for our fans who have been behind us and really supporting us. To give them the opportunity to have something to be proud of tonight and be proud of these guys, I thank them for never giving up on these guys. These guys continue to support us. I think these guys have done a good job the last few games, playing hard and well, making positive plays. I thought they took what they did in the game at Georgia, came back and had a good two days of practice and applied it in the game tonight against a very good, talented, tough Tennessee team.”
On the energy in the locker room postgame …
“It was great to have a chance to walk in there and see the look on these guys’ faces, even on the sideline before getting into the locker room and how engaged they were throughout the game. They were down at halftime, and coming out in the second half, the bench really energized the guys out on the floor. The energy certainly was in the locker room afterward. A lot of guys looked like they were trying to get well, and I thought they showed that in the locker room tonight with the energy and the excitement that was displayed in that locker room.”
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
SOPHOMORE GUARD BRANDON SAMPSON
On his scoring in the second half…
“It was just keeping my foot on the gas. Sometimes I can get complacent in the second half so I just wanted to keep driving and keep being aggressive. We played good defense and at points we got stops and we ran in transition.”
On what was different for them on defense this game as opposed to other games…
“I think we take steps each game and we showed that we were taking steps in the game before this. We played better defensively this game. We put two and two together and it just turned out good. I think everything came together.”
JUNIOR FORWARD AARON EPPS
On what changed for him on offense in the second half…
“I was just poised and just wanted to take smart shots. I just kept playing hard.”
On what worked for them in the paint on offense…
“Patience and just making sure that we didn't force anything and just playing our game.”
JUNIOR GUARD JALYN PATTERSON
On how the win feels…
“It’s good for us. We finally got one. There were only two games left in SEC play so it was good for us.”
On having a career high…
“We were just playing hard and being aggressive. It was the last home game of the season so we wanted to go out there and play hard and give everything we got and just try to win.”
On if he figured it was a matter of time before they broke the losing streak…
“Definitely. If we win now it's the SEC tournament. We just stick with it each and every day in practice and look forward to what’s next. We just have to stay together and stay the course.”
On the locker room after the game…
“It was kind of crazy because we haven’t gotten a win in a little while. Everybody was happy and smiling. It was a totally different locker room.”
HEAD COACH RICK BARNES
Opening Statement …
“Certainly have to give total credit to Johnny [Jones] and his team. Offensively, they did whatever they wanted to do. From our end, just very disappointing in the way that we defended tonight. We knew that they had the ability to score a lot of points and we didn’t defend. Even in the first half, we had the lead and we didn’t feel like we had guarded the way we wanted to guard. And then, we just didn’t finish plays. I can’t count how many times we had our hands on the ball rebound-wise and they broke it loose and came up with all the 50/50 balls. In the second half, offensively, Robert [Hubbs III] had a tough night. And then when he wasn’t making his shots, I felt like a couple of the guys thought that they had to go make something happen. It got away from us and from there we were just fighting uphill. But just really disappointed in our defensive effort more than anything.”